The Rainbow Family marched on the Pentagon yesterday -- 400 mellow followers in love beads and dirty jeans, determined to bring peace to the nation's war machine.
As they sang their Rainbow Planetary Anthem, to the tune of the Star-Spangled Banner, and a man in a blue velvet top hat sent soap bubbles bursting in air, tears rolled down the grime-layered cheeks of brother Little Billy.
"Can you feel the vibrations, man? Can you feel'em?" he asked a stranger to his right in a large circle of Rainbow brothers and sisters outside the Pentagon's mall entrance, his hands trembling with the group's euphoria and lack of sleep. "It's like, wow, it's like, like they said it would be. We're doing ti. We're purifying those war vibes. Oh, wow."
Fresh from their 10th annual, weeklong festival of love, peace and drugs in Monogahela National Forest in West Virginia, the assortment of 1960s hippies and their modern-day successors pulled into Washington Tuesday night to prepare for a "Peace Caroling at the Pentagon,' as one organizer put-it.
Spending the night on the south side of the Reflecting Pool, members of the group chanted Indian mantras, stared into candles and hugged their brothers an sisters. Singing old anti-war songs of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, they feasted on a communal meal of French bread, soybean soup, peppermint tea and two crates of yogurt that several of the brothers had rescued from the dumpster of a local supermarket.
At 4:30 a.m. yesterday, they set out on foot across Memorial Bridge for the Pentagon, escorted by a heavy contingent of U.S. Park Police and Federal Protection Service officers. But there was none on the civil disobedience or name-calling or many past Pentagon demonstrations. The Rainbow Family didn't seem to care much about causing a stir. The brothers and sisters walked around the five-sided monolith calmly, basking in the glowing orange Karma of their new dawn, stopping to chant "Om" at each side.
They even picked up trash they found lying on the grounds. By 8 a.m. they were on their way back to the Reflecting Pool.
Their style puzzled many Pentagon employes. "They told us to come to work a little early in case the hippies tried to stop us from getting inside like last time," said Army Sgt. Jonathan Joyen. "I don't understand these people. All they're doing is holding hands and singing. Some protest. It doesn't look like they know what they're doing."
Indeed, it seemed there was no master plan. There were no planks, let alone a platform, no demands, no clear focus.
But, explained organizer Tony Crow, a 41-year-old NASA engineer with long brown hair and a multicolored Mexican blanket-vest."The bottom line shows the power of the pure heartsong is shared among all peoples naturalness, the essence of humanity. We are here today, yes, we are here today in a quest to answer to humanity. It is here today."
A Rainbow flyer said: "To face the realness of the universe of which we are taking part is the first step in taking full charge. . . .We will dedicate our peace ceremony of prayer and heartsong to those who work and live for peace, within the military and without. To paraphrase Kermit the frog, 'It ain't easy being green on a nonpeaceful planet.'"
Sister Kathy, a tiny, blond high-schooler from Potomac, said early Tuesday night that she came because, "Well, man, it was either hang out at the camp (in West Virginia) and help clean up or come here. I thought it would be cool to do this. I've never protested before."
But by 3 a.m., Sister Kathy said she was feeling kind of low. "I'm disappointed," she said, surveying the gathering near the Reflecting Pool. "There are people sleeping and people sitting around in a circle and singing and that's it, Ii thought at least people would be getting their spirituality together about tomorrow. Maybe they could explain why we're here or something."
Brother Hank, an economist with the alternative technologies section of the Department of Energy who, at one point, suggested that the group send "hug-and-kiss patrols" into DOE after yesterday's rally, likened the gathering to ghost dances performed in years long past by tribes of Africans and American Indians.
"We are here, in a way, to resurrect the fallen warriors and ideals of the peace movement of the 1960s," he said.
Whatever their purpose, the Rainbow Family members came away with a kind of serene afterglow in their eyes.
"We have made love to the Pentagon," said one sister, a baby suckling at her breast. "How can they fight that?"